Rice baseball and Texas A&M played a marathon midweek game into the late hours of Tuesday night which went the way of the Aggies when it finally wound down.
It was clear from the start this wasn’t going to be a quick midweek reunion for two Lone Star state rivals. The last time Rice baseball and Texas A&M had met at Reckling Park had been their final game of the 2020 season before COVID-19 shut the sports world down later that week. Both teams made up for the long break with a four-hour, 27-minute ballgame, the longest of the season for the Owls.
Rice opened the scoring in the bottom of the first, courtesy of a wild pitch that allowed Austin Bulman to score from third, but not until seven Owls had come to the plate and Texas A&M had made a pitching change. Texas A&M would answer in the next frame, scoring four and forcing Rice to make a pitching change of their own.
The first two innings alone lasted more than an hour. Things wouldn’t speed up too much after that. Both squads would combine for four home runs, 23 total runs, 25 hits and 13 walks, providing plenty of traffic on the basepaths and very few short innings. 15 combined pitchers appeared in the nine-inning game.
For about half an hour, it felt like Texas A&M had broken things open with a fourth-inning grand slam that gave the visitors an 8-2 lead at the time. Despite the deficit, Rice baseball resolved to keep chipping away
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The Owls scratched across a pair across to start the bottom half of the fourth inning. Then Nathan Becker delivered a bases-clearing double to get Rice within one. Benjamin Rosengard drove in the equalizer on the next at bat. Two and a half hours after they’d started, it was a brand new ball game.
Texas A&M would gain further margin down the stretch, tacking on six more runs over the course of the next two hours of action. Rice threatened on several occasions but was unable to produce a second six-run rally, falling at home by the final score of 15-8.
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Rice baseball doesn’t have the luxury of throwing out the first month of the regular season, but it’s abundantly clear they aren’t letting the rocky start linger. The Owls did enough over the course of the past week to prove they’ve got what it takes to turn things around start winning some baseball games. During Tuesday’s marathon, they proved they belonged.
Texas A&M came to Houston fresh off a weekend series win over No. 8 LSU. The Aggies aren’t a perfect team by any means and midweek bullpen games can get squirrely — this one did — but after Rice erased a six-run deficit and hung around with a variety of bullpen arms, it sure felt like the Owls were every bit the equal of the team visiting from College Station.
Rice spotted Texas A&M four runs after loading in the fourth, allowing the Aggies to load the bases without a hit, then ceding a grand slam. They dropped multiple balls in the outfield, although only one counted as an error. Even still, it wasn’t until Texas A&M put up a three-spot in the eighth to extend their lead to 14-8 that things truly felt somewhat secure.
For the better part of four hours, Rice baseball hung around. And if Rice can hang with Texas A&M, they can hang with Marshall, FAU and everyone else on their schedule.
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